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NZ women ditch the glass ceiling and make their own success

19 Dec 2018
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They’re ambitious, they’re self-starters, and they’re running young and dynamic enterprises that they’re eager to grow. These are New Zealand women who have left the glass ceiling behind and instead taken the leap to go it alone.

A new study commissioned by Xero has found that 86% of polled women got their business off the ground purely from their own hard work – including funding with either no financial support or funding from friends and family.

Thirty-nine percent of women have sacrificed their own pay when cash has been tight, but that hasn’t stood in the way of profitability goals – 69% say profitability is one of their main business goals in 2019.

Two core principles drive those goals: 67% credit a passion for the job and 78% credit hard work.

“We know how hard it is to start a small business and then keep it alive: four out of ten fail within the first five years. Passion and hard work go a long way towards success, but women need to be helped in practical ways too,” comments Xero chief product and partner officer Anna Curzon.

“When it comes to the things holding them back, top of the list was poor planning, followed by other factors including a lack of know-how, suggesting that with the right support, advice and tools they could achieve their aims for growth.”

Xero notes that support can come from advisors who can help with planning – and New Zealand even provides one of the best environments for setting up a new business.

More young women are getting involved – according to the survey 47% of those who run small businesses are under the age of 45.

“The number of women entering the small business sector in New Zealand has risen by 35% over the past five years, and if we want this to continue at the rate it has been, it’s important that they are supported from day one so they are prepared to tackle any obstacle thrown their way,” says Curzon.

Rachel Lewis is the founder She Owns It, a startup support community for women. She says even the businesses themselves are younger – 50% started fewer than five years ago.

“The number of women entering the small business sector is growing at an impressive rate and it’s exciting to see so many younger people become entrepreneurs,” comments Lewis.

Xero’s research also found that 56% of women start their own business to take advantage of a better work-life balance.

“Some women in our network have moved away from the corporate lifestyle, as it simply doesn’t fit their needs anymore. They’re still ambitious, but for them it’s about calling the shots so they can ensure they have a healthy work-life balance,” says Lewis.

However, it doesn’t matter what age or sex a business owner is – everyone faces the same kinds of challenges when they start a business, Curzon adds.

“The critical point is making sure everyone has access to sound advice and is equally equipped to handle these hurdles.”

The survey was conducted by Perceptive Research. It gained responses from 1029 SMEs in October 2018.